By Keith Dunlap
Special for Second Half
BOYNE FALLS – Nothing else has stopped the Marquette boys ski team from dominating the state the past five years
So Mother Nature did its best Monday at the MHSAA Division 1 Finals.
However, not even unseasonable conditions slowed down the Redmen.
For the sixth straight year, Marquette finished the season as a champion in boys skiing following another dominant performance on a warm day at Boyne Mountain that wreaked havoc on a field not used to such mild and slushy conditions for a Finals meet.
Marquette finished with 56 points to once again best Traverse City Central, which was the runner-up for the fifth straight year with 80.5 points.
Rochester Adams/Stoney Creek’s combined team was third with 124.5 points, White Lake Lakeland was fourth with 153 and Brighton took fifth with 158.5 points.
Marquette coach Dan Menze said conditions were firm for the morning runs, but he had to tell his team to use caution when the warmth and sun softened the courses up considerably in the afternoon.
“Definitely in the afternoon, I had to let them know to be soft on their edges,” Menze said. “No hard pressures because as soon as you do in the soft stuff it’s going to eat you up. But they’ve had the opportunity the last couple of weeks in training to see different snow types, so they were a little used to it.”
Marquette started the day by dominating the morning slalom run, taking the top three places in that event.
Aaron Grzelak won with time of 57.96, Andrew Thomas was second at 58.97 and Hayden Kauppila came in third at 1:00.57.
James Wenzloff of Lakeland was fourth with a time of 1:00.64, and Max Wiedemann of Clarkston was fifth at 1:01.56.
Marquette wasn’t quite as dominant in the giant slalom when the afternoon arrived, but it was still good enough to score plenty of points.
Thomas was second at 1:05.17, Grzelak was fourth at 1:06.89 and Kauppila finished fifth with a time of 1:07.22.
Of the bunch, the only senior is Thomas, and he leaves with MHSAA team titles for every year of his high school career.
“It was surreal when we won the first one,” Thomas said. “Before you know it, I’m already a senior. I just got really lucky to be on teams that had awesome skiers every year.”
Nick Rupert of Rockford won the individual championship in the giant slalom with a time of 1:04.67, while Wenzloff took third with a time of 1:06.42.
PHOTOS: (Top) Marquette's Aaron Grzelak races toward a first-place finish in slalom Monday. (Middle) Rockford's Nick Rupert cuts through a turn during the giant slalom. (Click for more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)
BOYNE FALLS — Petoskey’s dynasty continued to brew at Monday’s Division 2 Ski Finals at Boyne Mountain.
The program added its 12th Division 2 championship over the last 13 years – and fourth straight – finishing first with a combined score of 63.
Pontiac Norte Dame Prep (83) finished runner-up, and Great North Alpine (116) finished third. Harbor Springs placed fourth at 128.
“It's great to see the seniors be able to close that out with four state championships in a row," Petoskey coach Ben Crockett said.
Northmen senior Nolan Walkerdine earned an individual medal finishing first in the slalom with a combined time of 1:10.87. Walkerdine said afterward he couldn't believe his team won again after experiencing an emotional roller coaster season.
"I've been working towards this for my entire life," Walkerdine said.
Senior teammate Wyatt Mattson won giant slalom (1:07.77) and finished seventh in the slalom. He noted he grew up watching Petoskey win 10 straight Division 2 Finals – a level of success he always wanted to take part in.
"When I was in eighth grade, we broke our winning streak," Mattson said. "I felt like we had to avenge that because I was used to us winning, to win four years in a row.
"This feels good," he continued.
Crockett has been coaching Petoskey for three seasons and never experienced anything but a Finals championship. Crockett realizes that won't last forever, but being undefeated on championship day is something he'll cherish.
He couldn't help but smile and laugh when realizing the feat.
"I had a few tastes of defeat, but that's just a testament to how strong the program is and how much it's a part of our community," Crockett said.
"It's a year where the team gelled together, and they enjoyed themselves the most of all the years," Crockett added. "Many of them are upperclassmen, and that sense of the end is coming — as every student (experiences) — as they get towards the end of their high school careers, they just seemed like they enjoy the experience as they're moving through it."
Walkerdine is hopeful that since his time on the team is at an end, newcomers can continue the dynasty they’ve continued building.
“Let’s keep this thing rolling,” he said.
Mattson was followed in the GS by Houghton’s Eli Heathman and Walkerdine, as Petoskey put four placers among the top 11 in that event.
Walkerdine was followed in slalom by Great North Alpine’s Corbin Murphy and Heathman in third.
PHOTOS (Top) Petoskey’s Nolan Walkerdine races past a gate during Monday’s Division 2 Finals at Boyne Mountain. (Middle) Houghton’s Eli Heathman eyes the path ahead during one of his races. (Click for more later this week from Sports in Motion – Division 2.)